Tillis: Nation’s cybersecurity must be protected against AI bad actors

As Congress works to develop guardrails for artificial intelligence (AI), U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) urged the White House to advance national security and economic prosperity by securing the nation’s digital infrastructure.

“We are collectively evaluating both the immense promise and sobering risks of AI, including capabilities we did not expect to see and those we do not always fully understand,” wrote Sen. Tillis and a colleague in a bipartisan letter sent to Acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden. “We seek to understand how we can prevent emerging generative AI capabilities from being used to carry out sophisticated cybersecurity attacks.”

In their Sept. 7 letter, Sen. Tillis and U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) requested that Walden’s office provide updates on efforts to reduce potential threats to the nation’s cyber infrastructure, and expressed concerns about vulnerabilities to compromising critical data.

While “our country will benefit enormously from broadening the technical skills across our workforce by making software development more accessible and secure,” wrote the senators, they also pointed out that bad actors could leverage generative AI technology to undermine established cybersecurity protections and profit by stealing money, data, and intellectual property from Americans and small businesses.

As Congress considers how to further promote AI innovation that is responsible, transparent, and advances the nation’s cybersecurity, Sen. Tillis and his colleague requested that Walden answer several questions, including how defenders of critical infrastructure can leverage AI to secure their systems, and what recommendations she has for private and public industries that may fall victim to adversarial AI-enabled cyberattacks, among others.

“Protecting our nation’s cyber infrastructure requires leveraging all tools at our disposal, including applying AI techniques to improve cybersecurity defenses in organizations of all sizes and technical capacity,” the senators wrote.